Saving the Game A Christian podcast about tabletop roleplaying games, collaborative storytelling in RPGs, and other interesting topics

August 6, 2019  

Guest—and possible honorary host—Krissi Woodward joins us this episode to break down her first time running a tabletop roleplaying game! Krissi ran a very successful arc of World of Darkness: Innocents for our gaming group and was willing to discuss that experience with us. First, a little bit about shiny new library cards and dirty library patrons, as well as an interesting Patreon question from Douglas Underhill, who asks about under-served genres of tabletop roleplaying games.

After our Scripture reading, Krissi gives us a ton of excellent advice and analysis from her first GMing experience. She talks about the game she ran and why she chose this system and story; her pre-game concerns and prep (including overpreparing); how she tackled issues that arose during the game, especially issues with player triggers; and plenty of clever GMing decisions that made the game a smooth and exciting experience for players and GM alike. Enjoy!

Also mentioned in this episode: How We Came to Live Here.

Scripture: Proverbs 9:9, Matthew 23:11-12, Romans 12:3

June 25, 2019  

Bryan and Mike from the Geek at Arms podcast join us this week to talk about the unwritten rules at our gaming tables (and elsewhere in our lives!) Geek at Arms is an excellent, thoughtful podcast in the geeky faith space and we're delighted to have two of its three hosts on this episode. Both shows' members have also been appearing on other podcasts as well: Peter was on a delightfully fun bonus episode of City on a Hill, featuring Feng Shui 2 and drink tables TO THE FACE. Meanwhile, Bryan was on an episode of the Retro Rewind Podcast talking about Cowboy Bebop! Make sure to subscribe to their show (and follow them on Twitter.) And if you're looking for a good cause to donate to, check out Hope Fostered as well, per their request!

Our Patreon question this week comes to us from Shawn Stauffer, who asks a simple question: "What did you have for lunch?" This turns out to be a more delicious answer than anticipated.

After our Scripture readings we break down the unwritten rules everyone has at the table—assumptions, inherited rules, group mores, and all the rest. If you've always assumed rules like "no PvP," "don't split the party," or "put your tax money on Free Parking," then this is the episode for you! Plus, we get a good rundown of Bryan's and Mike's GMing rules, and a quick aside from Grant about bad rules at the table.

Mentioned in this episode: Peter's "Going on Tilt" blog post; Mike's "The Rules" blog post.

Scripture: Jeremiah 31:33, Psalm 119:15-16, Matthew 23:1-12

May 28, 2019  

Jenny and Peter welcome Kyle Rudge of Geekdom House and Mythos & Ink back onto the mics, this time to talk about publishing! We've a bit of news first—Grant's out for a bit due to some health issues, and that's also shaken up our gaming schedule, which means there might be an Innocents game in the works. Also, Feng Shui 2!

Our Patreon question comes from Kenning, who asks "If you got superpowers (say, basic superstrength and flight), what would you do with them?"

After our Scripture reading, we dive into the publishing business with Kyle. What's the writing process look like from the publisher's perspective? What do fair contracts look like, and what's predatory? What are some common pitfalls? What's self-publishing and crowd-funding done to the publishing industry? And what's it like trying to be a publisher appealing to geeky Christians?

For more information about Mythos & Ink, visit their website and follow them on Twitter!

Scripture: Genesis 1:1, Job 19:23-25, Proverbs 27:9, Nehemiah 8:1-3, James 3:17

April 30, 2019  

Ryan Felton, GM and producer of City On A Hill Gaming, joins Grant, Jenny, and Peter to discuss creating actual play content! We've mentioned City On A Hill plenty lately, since Ryan was kind enough to invite the three of us on his show as players (and performers, as we'll discuss in this episode.) You can find Ryan and City on a Hill Gaming on Twitter at @CityOnAHillGame! Ryan also helps us answer a question from Patreon supporter John Swann, who asks about performance anxiety when sitting down to a convention game.

After our Scripture readings, we start to break down making actual play podcasts, and why Ryan decided to create City On A Hill Gaming in the first place. We also discuss why APs are important and interesting; the unique challenges of creating actual play content over analytical podcasts like Saving the Game; and the challenges of making family-friendly and near-Christian gaming content. We also go into some detail on things we as players, and Ryan as the GM, would like to do to improve City on a Hill specifically, as common traps that listeners should be aware of when creating actual play content!

Also mentioned in this episode: Hamlet's Hit Points and Beating the Story by Robin D. Laws; A Christian Gaming Podcast; Reunification by Press Pot Games; and City on a Hill "Side Quest #3" with Justin "Chivalrybean" Lowmaster (our editor!) and DMDad.

Scripture: 2 Samuel 2:6, Isaiah 6:8, Matthew 5:14-16

April 2, 2019  

Rev. Derek "The GeekPreacher" White joins us once again, and this time it's even more special than usual. This episode is a sort of test case for a new thing we might be doing with Derek more regularly—having Derek on to talk about specific theological topics from a geek perspective! First, though we've got a Patreon question to answer from Doug Hagler, who asks us what our individual D&D alignments are, and some Scripture we've picked out for the topic.

Then we let Derek take the lead as we discuss the unlikely sorts of heroes we see in both Scripture and in pop culture, from Moses and David to Frodo and Hawkeye. Accidental heroes, broken heroes, screwed-up heroes—we've got them all, and we're happy to talk about them!

Also mentioned in this episode: Unsong; the Critical Core Kickstarter from Game to Grow; and STG 115, "RPGs in Social Skills Therapy (with Adam Davis and Adam Johns)".

Scripture: Exodus 4:10-17, Isaiah 6:5-8, 1 Corinthians 15:2-11

December 19, 2018  

Author and game designer Greg Stolze joins us once again, this time to talk about systematically creating good gaming sessions! We had Greg on once before, talking about personal horror and Unknown Armies on STG 83, and it's great to have him back to give some excellent game-mastering advice. Greg's also got a Kickstarter for Termination Shock just wrapping up, and will be Kickstarting a second edition of Grim War in early 2019, so definitely check those out!

We end up spending a lot of time answering our Patreon question from Tom Stephens this episode, since he asked about how much time we spend researching, recording, and editing for an average episode of Saving the Game. Greg recorded some podcast episodes to promote Termination Shock, and so he's got plenty to add to that discussion as well!

After our Scripture readings, we go deep into the hard, practical steps gamemasters can take to build individual sessions and plan their game arcs built into both Termination Shock and Grim War. These are two rather different methods, but both are aimed squarely at new GMs, and designed to teach GMs how to keep players engaged and tell good stories without years of literary theory classes! Both the "playbook" approach of Termination Shock and the "lit-crit" approach of Grim War are worth testing in your own games, so give them a try (and consider picking up these games for more details!)

Scripture: Leviticus 19:34, Proverbs 4:6-7, Proverbs 15:22, Luke 6:39-40

October 16, 2018  

Krissi Woodward joins us again this episode to help Grant and Jenny speak a little less, since they're both pretty sick in this episode, and to talk about character backstories with everyone! Krissi's been on a few previous episodes can be found on Twitter as @d20mom.

We catch up a bit and talk about our upcoming streaming schedule over on Twitch, and then answer a question about fictional characters we'd want to GM for from Patreon supporter Richard Lorenz. Then after our Scripture readings, we dive into character backstories: What makes a good background, common pitfalls, some general advice, and the methods we each use for coming up with backstories for our characters.

Scripture: Genesis 37: 19-26Isaiah 43: 18-19Acts 9:1-62 Corinthians 5:16-17

September 4, 2018  

Zach Lorton of Back Burner Games joins us this episode to talk about playing music at the gaming table! Zach's a DJ, game designer, and friend of the show, so he's basically the perfect person to talk to about playing music and sound effects as part of the tabletop gaming experience. He's also got a lot to say, as you'll hear in this episode! Before that, though, we let Zach talk about Back Burner Games (Patreon, Instagram, Facebook) and very briefly talk about what we're playing and what's going on behind the scenes at STG.

After that, pastor and Patreon supporter Douglas Underhill gives us a somewhat controversial question to tackle, asking what our second choice of religion or life philosophy would be if somehow Christianity were off the table. Then we're into our Scripture readings for this episode and diving right into the main topic! We cover Jenny's musical talents and everyone else's lack thereof; background music; sound effects and ambient music; foreground music (including a story Grant's been wanting to tell for ages); how to use all of these at the table; and where to get music or sound effects.

Mentioned in this episode: Ribbon Drive RPG; the Pieces board game café in St. Louis, MO; myNoise; Tabletop Audio; MeloDice; and OverClocked ReMix.

Scripture: 1 Samuel 16:17-23Psalm 96:1-2Proverbs 25:201 Corinthians 14:15-19

August 21, 2018  

Gaming podcaster extraordinaire Kris Newton returns to discuss handling destiny in our games! Kris hosts two of our favorite podcasts: The Gameable Saturday Morning Podcast (neé Gameable Disney and Gameable Pixar) and the much-more-NSFW MegaDumbCast. He's been on several times before, just as we've all been on various episodes of Gameable, and we're delighted to have him back again. After catching up for a bit and hearing what Kris has been playing lately, we answer a spot-on Patreon question from Shawn Stauffer, who asks us to put together an adventuring party consisting entirely of Disney characters.

That done, and our Scripture for this episode read, we go deep into the idea of "destiny" in traditional storytelling and in tabletop gaming. What are some different approaches for including it in our games? How can we maintain player autonomy and input while getting full value from this powerful and familiar story element? What purpose does a destiny serve in our stories or as a metagame tool? And how do we mechanically define a destiny, if we do so at all?

Also mentioned in this episode: Steve Jackson Games's In Nomine RPG; the Machine of Death anthology; the Protean City Comics podcast; and Magpie Games's Masks RPG.

Scripture: Deuteronomy 31:19-22Isaiah 46:10Jeremiah 1:4-51 Corinthians 2:9-10

August 7, 2018  

Continuing our previous episode, Allen Mowers, Ashley Mowers, and Kyle Stainbrook from the Min/Max Podcast join us to finish our discussion on  moral accountability for our in-character choices. Just how much accountability do we have for the things our characters do in our games? How do we handle bleed, and how do we handle it when our own characters engage matters we aren’t fully comfortable with?

If you missed Part One of this conversation, you can find it here. Enjoy!

Relevant links: STG 111, “Larp and the Psychology of Play (with Dr. Sarah Lynne-Bowman)”; Dr. Sarah Lynne-Bowman’s articles on bleed and playing nasty characters; and STG 17, “Lines and Veils”.

Scripture: Psalm 7:14-16Matthew 5:21Matthew 13:13Mark 7:14-23

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